Recently in my masters of Education class we have been discussion the use of cell phones in the classroom for an educational purpose. I wanted to know what are some opinions out there regarding this topic? If you are for the use of cell phones what are some of the positive / effective ways they are used?

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Wow! Thanks for the info in your blog! I'm just wondering what challenges you've had (both in technical and policy) with trying to implement cell phones into your school?
I am not sure about cell phones in the classroom. Takes a lot of classroom management. If I can get my students to use the responders and bring pencil and paper I would be happy. Not encouraging cell phone use at this time without more research as to what plans students have. would not want to be liable for cell phone bills. As the become less expensive I see uses, but for now, I will stick to traditional methods.
Well, nowadays, phones are a lot like computers. They have special apps and internet connections, so I can see how it would be beneficial in that sense. However, I think phones would be much too distracting- text messages, phone calls, games, etc. If schools are going to integrate new technology, they should integrate technology that doesn't traditionally symbolize teenage communication and distraction. A better alternative (that everyone is talking about) could be the ipad; for one it has a bigger screen and I think it could be easier controlled by the teacher.
I believe cell phones could be used in the classroom if you have a class mature enough to be trusted with having cell phones during class time without having it as a distraction. Unlimited text/web would probably be beneficial in order to not become a billing issue as well, I agree. I would not see this working in an elementary group, but high school would definitely be a possibility (middle school would "iffy" in my opinion).
Hi Jennifer,

You can read my blog for many ideas on how they can be used effectively here. You may want to start with 5 Steps to Harnessing the Power of Cells in Education Today . As you look through the posts, I invite your thoughts and comments.

You may also want to join my Cell Phones in Education group here or my Let Students Use Cell Phones to Learn group on Facebook to connect with others interested in this topic.
Great ideas, everyone!
I've been struggling to find a way to bring them into my teaching and now I get it!

At a recent teacher training session the speaker gave a very practical piece of advice... As her elementary students walk in the her class, the place the phones (turned off) into a basket. When the lesson calls for phones (ha ha - "calls for phones") she has her kids pick them up. When it is over they go back in the basket (turned off) until the end of the day. She also suggested to plan for last period, so if a phone is not turned off it won't cause a problem.
I can see both sides to this arguement.
I think if all the students had the same phones perhaps provided by the school to upload, download, and research with for school work in and out of the classroom then that would be very helpful in the learning.I can see multiple scenarios where phones could help with scavenger hunts pictures, quick video projects, students emailing each other information.
In some cases if teachers are wanting to use phones that aren't provided then they must consider that not all students have phones or not all have internet access to research information quickly or to upload pictures. Some children would be left out of the phone using activities. That could create issues amongst students such as jealousy and cause cliques.
Not having a 1:1 phone environment is not a case for not using tech just as we wouldn't consider not using computers or textbooks if not every student had them. Here are some ways to address one to some environments.

# Checking out a device from school i.e. laptop, iTouch, cell phone
# Connecting with community businesses willing to provide students with afterschool access to technology.
# Connecting students with mentors who could ensure students had access to technology.
# Partnerships with local library.
# Outreach to cell phone providers to donate minutes/equipment for students in need.
# Setting a place in the school (i.e. library, lab, classroom) for after school/ before school access to school technology.
# Partnering classmates who can share technology.
I think that a phone can be used in a positive way but you can always stick with a computer. sometimes smart phones can be a little slow or not get any service in certain areas. it would be great however, for like tweets or poll taking. technology has taken over period so anything is possible in classes on adays.
Well, I wouldn't encourage the use of cellphones in the classroom for communication, since it definitely creates a level of distraction, especially among K12 students. But I agree with the other uses - a cellphone (or a modern PDA) can be used as a camera, or to tweet, share, and learn from various internet resources while students learn, which could be a great idea.
I think cell phones don't belong in the classroom. They are a major distraction and are not worth the trouble they can cause. How can you regulate a student's personal cell phone? How can you keep them from texting each other and help them to remain on task? What do you do about students who don't have cell phones? How will they participate? What happens to their self esteem when they don't have a cell phone to pull out with the rest of the class? What about the students with really nice phones? How do you keep them from getting stolen? I could go on and on... cell phones in the classroom are not a good idea.
We can't forget that cellphones are powerful mobile mini-computers. There is a period of normalization that occurs with any new technology. We need to guide students through digital citizenship and appropriate use. We also need to get to the point in which students are self-regulating, which means some initial guiding and regulation on our part as teachers working with students. I guess what we have to ask ourselves is "do we want to pretend we don't know students are texting behind our backs anyway" or do we want to be open and find an opportunity to teach them appropriate use and guide them towards self-regulation by helping them manage their attention?

Try putting students in groups when not all your students have cell phones. You'll find the "haves" are willing to share with the "have-nots" during this time as many have data plans (though you should never insist on sharing and I can bet it would be a very rare case that someone objects anyway). This way everyone gets an opportunity for deeper learning, instead of no one. Working in groups of 3 or 4 is great. If you're worried about the self-esteem of the ones who don't have phones, it's not like they don't already know who the "have" and "have-nots" are. I remember back in high school when many of the girls around me were wearing designer clothes and I was wearing regular clothes. It's a life lesson they've already learned.

I've actually never had a cell phone stolen in class before. When they're out in the open, it's pretty obvious which phone belongs to whom and kids rarely let them out of their sights. Though yes, it is a potential problem and you would need to share those risks with your students.

Right now students are texting with their phones because it's a great tool in their social world, as they look for ways to keep adults out of a space while they work to find their identities. They engage in shifting social circles as they try to establish long-lasting friendships like the ones we now have in adulthood. I have spoken with students who feel pressured by their friends to text back immediately upon receipt. They get into a dangerous cycle of compulsion that is full of internal interruptions and social pressure. This is very different from how adults use texting. We can take our time getting back to people without feeling quite the same stress. As teachers we can try to get rid of the external interruptions in their environment but they will find ways around it. Controlling their external environment by banning cell phones does nothing to quell the internal interruptions that take place in the head, repeatedly popping up and reminding them to "take a look at that screen" and check where they stand in each other's friends' lists.
In order to address this issue and help kids control their compulsion, we need to teach them how to become autonomous.

In order to address this issue and help kids control their compulsion, we need to teach them how to become self-regulators and how to engage in appropriate social etiquette. This can happen through allowing use at appropriate times during class, guided by helping them manage the type of attention required of the task at hand. We do this through adult guidance, attention cuing, mentorship, and teaching digital citizenship. You can't teach these when you ignore what they're doing anyway and your risk putting yourself outside of their world.

I produced a 37-minute documentary on this topic for my Masters. I interviewed David Buckingham, author and Director of the London Knowledge Learning Lab; Danah Boyd, author, Berkeley fellow and researcher for Microsoft and Harvard; Linda Stone, retired Executive from Apple and Microsoft; Dr. David Meyer, Psychology professor at the University of Michigan; and Neil Andersen, author, media consultant, and speaker with the Association for Media Literacy. I also interviewed teachers and school administrators, parents, and most of all..teens. You can view some of the clips from my documentary at www.janemitchinson.ca

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